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Renting vs Buying


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#1 Jon Amerikaner

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 01:34 PM

We get a lot of questions on this board about what are the best cameras and equipment to buy. I am of the mind set that there is no "best." Because every project is different I feel one should pick equipment based on the needs of the specific project. Therefore I am an advocate of renting. Why buy a camera that is ideal for one project but inadequate for the next? Why not rent the right gear for each project for a fraction of the purchase cost? This goes for newbies as well as vets.

I'll give you an example from my own experience. I was the DP for a student short. We had six days to cover 15 pages: days, nights, interiors, and exteriors. No problem. My producer/director said we had about 5k for a budget. So he asked what camera could we buy. I responded well for 5k we can buy camera A, B, or C. But we won't have any left for lights, grip, sound, and food. I asked if he would consider renting. I contacted several rental houses, was quoted several camera, light, grip, and sound packages (all discounted), and returned to the director. We found one package with a camera that was superior to A, B, and C, and would have cost twice our budget to buy. In the end we secured the camera, lights, grip, sound, and insurance for six days for $1,200.00. Now that?s a deal!

What are your feelings on this subject? When would you suggest a rental over purchase and vice versa?

Thanks all.
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#2 Matt Pacini

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 02:19 PM

There are so many past discussions on this topic, that if you comb the archives, you could spend about 6 hours reading them.

To sum it all up, you're going to find this:

1. If someone else is paying for the production, and/or you're shooting continuously, then rent.

2. If it's your money, and you'll be shooting randomly (nights, weekends, whenever, at the drop of the hat) and/or you KNOW you're going to be shooting other projects in the same manner, and renting for this, and those projects would cost more than buying, etc., then buy.

MP
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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 02:36 PM

Hi,

Usually it's a timing thing. I shoot a lot of long drawn-out documentary, odd days over months, which is clearly the time to own But equally, productions like that often don't demand enormously high end kit. I just have a reasonably respectable standard-def ENG style outfit.

Phil
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#4 Mariano Nante

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 09:34 PM

I think that having a camera of your own is very important if you're a filmmaker. Artists of all kinds get to be the best by practising: writers write, painters paint, musicians play, etc. So in my opinion, every person aspiring to be a director should have his own equipment in order to practise, try out new things, EXPERIMENT. One should be in touch with filming gear as much as possible.

At least that's my 2 cents.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 09:42 PM

Certainly you should own something cheap enough to use regularly to practice as an artist -- for me, it was Super-8.

That's a different issue than whether to own or buy equipment for professional work.
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#6 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 18 June 2005 - 08:40 AM

I think it really depends on your situation and what you're doing.
If you want to do some personal stop frame animation stuff that's going to take a long time (which was true many years ago for me) than buying a Bolex or a Scoopic is not such a bad idea.
Alot of music vidos get shot on these not too expensive cameras and the results are great.
Buying an ArriCam is entirely a different story.
I've gotten some jobs because I owned a camera but owning a camera is no guarantee of that.
Having a camera available at any time day or night to shoot stuff at one's leisure is a good thing I believe. Just don't go overboard and spend beyond your means.
Just my 2 cents.
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#7 Nate Downes

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Posted 18 June 2005 - 12:09 PM

Always bargin hunt. You never know when a good deal will show up. For me, it was 2 K-3's for under $100 total. Sure, they're no Arriflex, but they give me the freedom to explore ideas and concepts that I would otherwise have been unable to try.
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